Time Machine w/o Time Capsule?


macrumors member
Original poster
May 5, 2012

Given all the issues with my Mac, I decided to do a clean install from a thumb drive. Now that I have a clean Mac, I would like to do regular back ups of my drive but do not have Time Capsule. Is there a way to have Time Machine save your backups to a partition rather than to Time Capsule?

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
When I was at Best Buy last week, I picked up a pocket sized $56.99 1TB USB 3.0 drive, which I plugged into my Mac as a selected as my Time Machine backup drive.

While partitions are great for recovering from user errors, when the drive starts to go bad, it generally would render backups on the same drive hard to get to.

Also put a small partition on the backup drive with a new copy of the OS, migrated my apps over, and user info -- didn't bother with data.


macrumors member
Original poster
May 5, 2012
I don't get Time Capsule. Why would I need 3 TB to back up a 128 gig macbook? I'll look into the others, but my understanding is to use Time Capsule, it has to be a drive equipped with Airplay. When you turn on Time Capsule, it immediately opens Airdrop and does not give you an option to find external hard drives that are physically connected to the source computer?


Staff member
Dec 7, 2002
New Zealand
Time Machine does not require a Time Capsule. You should be able to click on "Select Disk" under Time Machine's preferences and choose a local disk there (which probably needs to be HFS+ formatted). You should also get a prompt when you first connect an external disk.
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macrumors regular
Feb 2, 2007
Arvada, Colorado
I have always used external drives for my back-ups. For my iMac, I kept a drive connected all the time, but for my MBP, I use portable hard drives. I just connect it a couple of times a month--I have nothing critical on my machine requiring more frequent back-up.